February 28, 2013

Top spellers prepare for regional competition


---- — MORIAH —  In his spare time, Nicholas Manfred consults his dictionary, studying the meaning of words, as well as where they originated and how they are pronounced. 

The eighth-grader said knowing such things about words can help him determine how they are spelled, and Manfred hopes to defend his title as the region’s top speller. 

A student at Moriah Central School, he took first place in the 2012 Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee, and as a result, earned his school the honor of hosting the upcoming 2013 competition, which will take place at 6 p.m. Friday in the Moriah Central auditorium. 

There, Manfred, the grand champion of his school’s Dec. 21 seventh- and eighth-grade spelling bee, will compete against 51 other area students in grades four through eight, all of whom have emerged as the best spellers in their classes. 

“I think I’ll do good,” he said. “I am hoping to win again.”


While this will mark Manfred’s fourth trip to the Regional Spelling Bee, fellow Moriah Central student Madeline Cochran will make her first appearance in the event this year, having proven to be the best speller among her fifth-grade classmates at a bee held Jan. 10. 

“I’m terrified,” she said of participating in the regional competition. “I’m terrified that I will get out in the first round.”

Still, she added, “I’m excited, too, so it kind of levels out.”

Like Manfred, Cochran has been doing what she can to prepare for the event. 

”I usually write down most of the words to practice,” she said. 


The Regional Bee will commence with multiple oral rounds that will take place onstage in front of the audience. 

Each competitor will receive one word per round to spell aloud. Before answering, he or she may ask to hear the word used in a sentence, as well as the word’s definition, part of speech, language of origin and any alternate pronunciations. 

Spelling a word wrong will result in elimination from the bee. 

Students remaining at the end of the first oral rounds will go to a separate area to take a written spelling test. Those with qualifying scores on the written exam will then return to the stage and continue with oral rounds until a grand champion, as well as a winner for each grade level, is determined. 


The grand champion will win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the Press-Republican, where he or she will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, as Manfred did last year. 

“It was a lot of fun,” he said.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for students,” added Jane Landry, Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee coordinator. “It gives them the opportunity to compete in an academic competition, and it gives the winner the opportunity to compete in Washington, D.C.”


Moriah Elementary School Principal Valerie Stahl said she and High School Principal Alison Burch are very excited to host the Regional Spelling Bee and have been preparing for it all year. 

The event is open to the public and will feature a concession stand with snacks, such as hot dogs, michigans and nachos, the sales from which will benefit the school’s Drama Club. 

“Mrs. Burch and I are hoping that we get a chance to host again next year,” Stahl said. “We’re rooting for our kids.”

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